Friday, December 22, 2006

PJ'S WISH by Keith Giles

Over the last year, my wife and I have been stepping out of our comfort zone to live missionally in our new neighborhood. One of the main expressions of this has been towards the children who come over and play with our two sons on a regular basis.

This last summer we hosted a five week "Kids Club" and invited all of the elementary age children in our cul-de-sac to join us on Sunday Mornings in our den to learn about who Jesus was, and is.

Because all of the kids showed up and participated, we knew that their parents were not attending church anywhere else on a regular basis. Based on the feeback we received from the children directly, we realized that there wasn't a big faith influence in their lives at home either.

After those five weeks ended, the missional aspect of our ministry to these families continued. In fact, it was beyond the more programmatic format where we discovered the real nitty-gritty ministry was really at.

A few weeks ago, after our regular Sunday Morning House Church was over, several of the neighborhood children ran into our house to play with our boys. One little girl ran over to me and begged me to play those "Jesus Songs" on the guitar for her. As my friend Tod and I began to play "Lord I Lift Your Name On High" and "Every Move I Make", she began to do the hand motions as best as she could and sang along at the top of her lungs. It was sweet.

As we played "Undignified" (which usually degenerates into a mosh-pit of flailing, giggling bodies) several other children ran in and joined us in song.

One of the boys, (we'll call him "PJ"), sat down in front of me and pushed my Bible in front me. "Read to us the story about David when he killed that Giant!" he said. I started to tell them the story in my own words and PJ opened my Bible and repeated his request for me to read the words to all of them. So, I did and all of them listened intently, asked questions and marvelled at how God helped a little boy no bigger than they were to defeat an evil Giant.

PJ made me read a few other adventures from the Bible to them and then he suddenly looked up at me and said, "Do you know what I would wish for if I ever saw a shooting star?" It was an out-of-place question and it made all of us pause to consider what he could be driving at. PJ is probably in First Grade, maybe Kindergarten. From the very day we moved into this house, just over a year ago, he was comfortable in our presence. He always asks the most pointed and direct questions, with little or no inhibitions about anything or any subject. I love it when he comes over and I always have fun talking with him.

I decided to play along with PJ and I asked him what he would wish for if he ever saw a shooting star, assuming he was about to tell me he'd like to fly or shoot lasers out of his eyes or something. He looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said, "I'd wish that my Dad would be home so he could play with me more. He's never home. He's always working".

Tod and I looked at each other, touched by PJ's honesty. I had a moment of clarity and said, "PJ, you know you don't have to wait until you see a shooting star. You can pray right now and ask God to help your Dad stay home more often and play with you." PJ looked up at me and said, "OK!", so Tod and I bowed our heads along with PJ and I asked that God would help his Dad to not work so much, and that PJ would be able to see his Dad more and get to play with him more. When I said,"Amen", PJ looked up at me and instantly asked me, "Do you think it will come true?"

My heart skipped a beat. I realized that for PJ this was serious business, not some cute "Kodak Moment" in time. I took a breath and I said, "Well PJ, I think if you will keep asking God about this, when you say your prayers, that God will help your Dad to see that he needs to spend more time with you. I will pray for you too, PJ, and I think if we both keep praying that it really will come true."
That seemed to be enough for PJ and he was suddenly running off to chase my sons with a plastic claw.

Tod and I talked a little afterward. It made me realize that our missional life in this community was more subtle, and ongoing, than an hour and a half program. Our interactions here with these children are making a difference in ways that will have a lasting, even an eternal, impact.

For the first time in our lives, my family is intentionally living a life of faith in full view of our neighbors. We're sharing life with people, no matter who they are and what they call faith or truth, or home.
At the same time, we know we don't always have it all together. We're not perfect, by any means, and the good news is we're not called to be. We're simply called to love others as we love ourselves. It's up to God to do the rest, unless He directs us otherwise.

So, the next time you say your prayers, I'm sure PJ would appreciate it if you would remember to ask if his father would realize how much his son needs him to play with him more often. Say a prayer for us too, that we would have the love of Jesus for the families on our street.

Peas on Earth!

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